Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Country: United States
Main cast: Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, John Williams
Genres: Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5
The year was 1954 when the genius film director Alfred Hitchcock made the masterpiece ''Rear Window'', starring Grace Kelly. The same year, he had directed another movie starring Grace Kelly, that is ''Dial M for Murder'', a greatly entertaining and twisted crime/thriller film. While I think it's quality is not as much as Hitchcock's masterpieces, it's still an excellent movie.
In this film Grace Kelly plays Margot, the beautiful wife of ex-tennis player Tony Wendice (played by Ray Milland). Margot has been committing adultery with writer Mark Halliday (played by Robert Cummings). Unknown to them, Tony knows all about Margot's extra-marital affair. He decides to kill Margot. But he would not do this himself. He calls Lesgate, an old acquaintance with whom he hasn't had touch for years, and but has been, for the past few days, following him. Tony has come with a plan so that Lesgate agrees to murder Margot. Under blackmail and with the greed of the money that Tony will reward him, Lesgate agrees.
But their plan doesn't go right. When Lesgate comes to murder Margot, nothing goes according to their plans because...
And from then starts a twisted, entertaining thriller.
Based on the play by Frederick Knott, Dial M for Murder goes on to be as entertaining as it could be.
It is Margot who is committing adultery, but Margot is not evil. Rather, it is Margot and Mark we feel sympathy for as, despite their affair, they are the innocent people, not wicked like Tony. It is indeed so. The screenplay seems excellent and the dialogues are great. The story of the film is excellently developed and almost flawless.
Just think of the plans Tony made, the traps he made, the tricks he played to murder his wife and later, to make himself seem completely innocent and not to have anything to do with the case. I won't explain the case here, as it would mean spoiling one of the most important parts of the film. Anyways, let's return to the topic. Tony's intentions are purely evil, we know that, but his plans, his traps are so excellently made that it make us think that Tony is indeed a genius person; he is misusing his talent and using his talent to do a terrible crime.
A thing remarkable is that we feel sympathy and dislike for all three major characters, at some point or other. Their characters have mixed qualities. Tony is the villain, without a doubt, and he is wicked. Ray Milland gives a great performance, and along with this terrific performance and the stunning dialogues, this character, though wicked, remains a memorable character. So does Grace Kelly's character. Margot is involving in extra-marital affairs, and you feel disapproval for her at the beginning of the film, but later the troubles that her husband lets her fall simply makes us feel that she is the protagonist of the film, she is the most innocent person in the movie. Robert Cumming's performance is also great, but remains only slightly memorable as it is only as excellent compared to that of Kelly and Milland, but oh yes boy, he gives a terrific performance as well. John Williams is great as a police inspector, and Anthony Dawson, in his small supporting but important role, is quite good.
The film's cinematography is generally good. It isn't something terrific or extraordinary, but the cinematography and camera work deserves special praise. Background music is good, but nothing too memorable.
The atmosphere that the film creates is generally like this: we think we know what has happened, we know everything, the police doesn't know, he has to find out, and we eagerly wait for him to find out the truth that is already known to us. There is a subtle twist, and this contributes to make this film a brilliant one. Dry humor is present, which is not unusual as this is a Hitchcock film.
All in all, applauds for the great Alfred Hitchcock for directing a brilliant, praiseworthy, and delightfully entertaining movie.
4 out of 5